2020 #NanookNation stories

Jenessa Oviok

Jenessa Oviok

Jenessa Oviok’s nephew was born with a hole in his heart. Watching him face that challenge, while she wasn’t able to help, helped her decide on a career. “That’s why I want to be a doctor,” she said.

Read Jenessa's story
David Harvey

David Harvey

Even as a child growing up on the Pacific coast, David Harvey wanted to be a volcanologist.

Read David's story
Benny Acquah

Benny Acquah

Benny Acquah remembers the trouble people sometimes had obtaining clean water in her home city of Koforidua, Ghana. So she decided she would study environmental engineering at UAF and someday help solve such problems.

Read Benny's story
Kevin Huo

Kevin Huo

Kevin Huo came to UAF from California but, far from hibernating in the frozen North, he has used this place to launch himself around the world.

Read Kevin's story
Kahryn Buchanan

Kahryn Buchanan

Kahryn Buchanan didn’t like math until she started taking a college-level course. At age 13.

Read Kahryn's story
Kevin Grimes

Kevin Grimes

A teacher from Buffalo, New York, helped Kevin Grimes find direction, just by reaching out at a tough moment.

Read Kevin's story
Grace Miller skiing

Champion skier enjoys UAF lifestyle

Two unique features have marked life at UAF since its earliest days, and Grace Miller has embraced both. She skis on the cross-country team, and, like many students, she lives in a cabin without running water.

Read Grace's story

2019 #NanookNation stories

Joe Bifelt

Joe Bifelt

Joe Bifelt saw firsthand how a cultural connection could transform school for young people in his home village of Huslia. A dog mushing program started by his late grandfather, legendary racer George Attla, changed his relationship with the high school teachers in his senior year.

Read Joe's story
Daniel Dykes

Daniel Dykes

Daniel Dykes first got interested in neuroscience as he watched doctors on the fictional TV program “House.” Now he’s studying the topic at UAF and plans to eventually earn both a doctorate and a medical degree.

Read Daniel's story
Haley Castillo

Profile: Haley Castillo

UAF offered the perfect combination for Haley Castillo: a homeland security bachelor’s degree program, courses in aircraft piloting and a top-ranked rifle team. So the young woman from New Mexico headed north.

Read Haley's story
Cameron Blood sites in the alumni lounge and smiles at the camera

Profile: Cameron Blood

When Cameron Blood finished high school in Seattle, his grandparents encouraged him to broaden his horizons.

Read Cameron's story
Cyan Woodward

Profile: Cyan Woodward

Cyan Woodward has been fascinated by geology her whole life. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis — “I was interested in learning the mechanisms behind them,” she said.

Read Cyan's story
Michael Martins

Profile: Michael Martins

Michael Martins didn’t know how to play the piano when he first arrived at UAF, but an old out-of-tune instrument in Bartlett Hall intrigued him. Things snowballed from there.

Read Michael's story
Ruth Nashookpuk

Profile: Ruth Nashookpuk

Like other painters, Ruth Nashookpuk uses canvas as a foundation. But when she’s done, Nashookpuk can lace up her work and apply it to her other passion: basketball.

Read Ruth's story
Isabel Castro

Profile: Isabel Castro

Isabel Castro sat in her car in Kodiak two years ago, interviewing over her cell phone for a job with the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“My phone was about to die, and I have to take my brother to the pool, and I’m stressed,” she remembered.

Read Isabel's story
Chelsea Brown

Profile: Chelsea Brown

Chelsea Brown went straight from high school in Georgia to a 35,000-student university nearby. However, the U.S. Army transferred her mother to Fairbanks a few years later, prompting Brown to follow and enroll at UAF.

Read Chelsea's story


Cody Newman

Profile: Cody Newman

Cody Newman studies petroleum engineering and trains as a ROTC cadet. So why did summer 2017 find him fighting wildfires in Alaska and the Lower 48?

Read Cody's story
John Oulton

Profile: John Oulton

John Oulton bought a car last summer. The 2008 Chevy Cobalt isn’t big or fancy. Car and Driver magazine described it that year as “an acceptable choice as a transportation appliance.”

Read John's story
Cory LePore

Cory LePore

Bachelor's in economics
Hometown: Bethel

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Larissa Strunk

Larissa Strunk

Bachelor’s in secondary education
Hometown: Quinhagak

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Esther Berlin

Esther Berlin

Bachelor’s in digital journalism
Hometown: Kasigluk

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Kaitlin Tom

Kaitlin Tom

Bachelor’s in Yup’ik Eskimo
Hometown: Newtok

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2016 #NanookNation stories

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Extraordinary Journalism

UAF journalism student Julia Taylor helped cover court hearings that culminated in the release and exoneration of four men imprisoned for a 1997 murder.

watch julia and brian's story

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Extraordinary Energy

Andrew Akelkok, a high school student in Dillingham, studies energy at UAF's Bristol Bay Campus in hopes of finding better sources for rural villages.

watch andrew and tom's story

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Extraordinary Chemistry

Graduate student Nicole Knight began studying analytical and environmental chemistry at UAF after a professor sought her out to help in a new lab.

watch nicole and sarah's story

Mark Conde

Helping to dodge space debris

Mark Conde, a space physicist with UAF Geophysical Institute, wants to make maps of weather in the upper atmosphere above Antarctica.

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Alyssa Enriquez

Exploring quiet space

Alyssa Enriquez leapt between worlds in 2012, from studying art photography in San Francisco to grinding rust from steel construction beams in Nome.

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2015 #NanookNation stories

Extraordinary Geophysics YouTube


Extraordinary Geophysics

Matthew Balazs, geophysics student, and Anupma Prakash, professor of geophysics.

watch matthew and anupma's story

Airplane in sky

A degree 40 years in the making

Liam Craske catches a floatplane every Tuesday morning to Ketchikan, where he rents a room with Internet access. 

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Extraordinary Engineering

UAF electrical engineering graduate student, Morgan Johnson, and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, Denise Thorsen

watch denise and morgan's story


Young musician finds his voice in Fairbanks

My favorite thing about UAF is the opportunity. Personally, I've gotten to do so many things that have helped me grow as a person, a professional and a musician.

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Lakeidra Chavis

Finding good stories and good community in Bethel

When Lakeidra Chavis told friends she would move to Bethel to work as a reporter for the public radio station this fall, she could feel their skepticism.

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Extraordinary Preparation

Homeland security and emergency management student, James Gilchrest, and UAF School of Management instructor and outreach coordinator, Sean McGee

watch james and sean's story

Jeff Thompson

After life shipwrecks Jeff Thompson, he finds new direction at CTC, UAF

Jeff Thompson didn’t tell people where he lived when he first started school at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. After a series of setbacks in his life and his blue-collar career, Thompson had moved into a homeless shelter, the Fairbanks Rescue Mission.

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Bittersweet graduation comes to GeoFORCE's first class

A trip to the Rocky Mountains this summer offered a field of contrasts for rural Alaska teens in GeoFORCE Alaska, a four-year geology program offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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Sean McGee

Teaching caps a career

This summer, Sean McGee, who has taught homeland security and emergency management courses at the UAF School of Management for three years, shared the following thoughts about his life and career.

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When dinner is the show: Student artist found inspiration in her museum job

Angela Linn remembers the moment Kirsten Olson first saw the story knife collection at the University of Alaska Museum of the North.

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Derek Starkenburg

Designing a diverse career

Derek Starkenburg’s academic progression is a case study in how a person can set out on one path but take many forks.

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Chris Clement

Biology student branches out

Chris Clement is ready for anything — fighting the zombie apocalypse, restraining an eagle or offering a definition of cryptorchidism in dogs, which is when the testes don't drop.

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Traditional lifestyle inspires studies in petroleum engineering

Jesstin Patterson attends petroleum engineering classes in Fairbanks, hundreds of miles from his home villages, but those places remain foremost in his mind — and often on his taste buds.

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Knitting one-of-a-kind gloves warms the hands — and the heart

Michelle Strehl didn’t wait long for her first customer. While on winter break in 2013, the UAF student decided to knit gloves for people like herself whose hands have unique shapes.

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Sue Klingner

aurora magazine:

Then again: Susie Klingner '64

Interview with alumna Susie Klingner: "I always had a bit of a nomadic, wild streak in me."

read susie's story

Brant Schalk

Landing the big show

Before breaking his back in a four-wheeler accident in 2001, Brant Schalk was a skateboarder. “I would try a trick over and over until I landed it,” he says. “And printmaking demands the same level of patience and process, if not more. In a way, printmaking has filled the hole that was left when I could no longer skateboard.”

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An agent of change: Student ambassador revels in new experiences

I'm a military brat and immensely proud of it. I revel in experiencing new things — unless we're talking food; then I'm a bit particular. Tread carefully if you want to talk about Disney, Broadway, theater, movie scores or traveling, because I can go on and on about each of them. At first, I may come off as reserved, but once we're friends, I become more like myself.

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Extraordinary Leadership

"Speaking directly to a student like Tiana about her experience, I learned that donors like you and me truly make a difference in students’ lives."

watch libby and tiana's story

Kristin Timm

Poster child for science communication

Kristin Timm’s effort to create a background image for a scientific workshop evolved into an award-winning poster about links between glaciers and the ocean this year.

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Spring break beach trip, Alaska style

A few dozen students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks put a twist on the traditional spring break trip to the beach each year.

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Vera Alexander


Fairbanksan Vera Alexander honored with new award

A professor and dean emeritus of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has had an award named after her — merely a drop in her ocean of accomplishments.

read vera's story

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KUAC poster artist Jennifer Moss

Jennifer Moss discusses her painting "Caribou Night."

watch jennifer's story


Profile: Lonny Strunk

Lonny Strunk grew up speaking Yup'ik, but living in Japan showed him how his Alaska Native language connects him to his culture and identity.

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Ed Ruckstuhl

aurora magazine:

Then again: Ed Ruckstuhl, '63

"My first challenge was learning how to walk wearing leather shoes. The solution: Throw the leather shoes away."

read ed's story

Carolyn Lang

Profile: Carolyn Lang

Carolyn Lang’s life is consumed by one goal: finishing the Yukon Quest. For now, she’s a dog handler, which means scooping poop, putting on booties, cutting meat and performing minor vet care. She’s also a full-time student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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Matthew Sturm

Profile: Matthew Sturm

Matthew Sturm can’t choose one thing he likes best about snow, because it would be like choosing which of his children he likes best.

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JR Ancheta

In their own words: JR Ancheta

"At UAF, I was given room to discover what I have to contribute to the world ... Thanks in part to the mentorship I received at UAF, I discovered what propels and inspires me the most."

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Sierra Corsetti

In their own words: Sierra Corsetti

"The smell of the summer air in Alaska has an energizing effect ... I know I made the right choice as a fourth-year student pursuing a bachelor’s of science in biological sciences."

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Extraordinary Education

UAF graduate, Bennett Wong, and UAF School of Education assistant professor, Ute Kaden

watch bennett and ute's story

2014 #NanookNation stories

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Extraordinary Art

UAF graduate, Erin Gingrich, and assistant professor of native arts, Da-Ka-Xeen Mehner

watch erin and da-ka-xeen's story

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Extraordinary Change

UAF electrical engineering major, John Venables, and Alaska Center for Energy and Power director, Gwen Holdmann

watch john and gwen's story

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Extraordinary Performance

UAF theatre and psychology double major, Nicole Cowans, and associate professor of theatre, Carrie Baker

watch nicole and carrie's story